And now, an alternative for the performer looking for his own niche . . .
New York — A huge city like New York is full of nooks and crannies. Why not ferret them out, fix them up, and put them to some imaginative use? Creative Time Inc. does just that. A not-for-profit arts organization, it looks for ''vacant spaces of historical and architectural interest,'' then makes them available for performances and exhibitions by artists who don't mind the challenge of an unconventional setting.
This season a pair of Creative Time spaces are active. The ongoing ''Art on the Beach'' series, now in its fifth year, is continuing at the Battery Park City Landfill on the Hudson River shore. And a new program, called ''Art at the Anchorage,'' is under way in a most unusual spot: a bricked-in theater and exhibition space bounded by the stone walls and vaulted ceilings of the Brooklyn Bridge anchorage, where that splendid structure is rooted in the earth.
I visited the anchorage a few days ago to check out this unlikely spot, pay my respects to the bridge on its 100th birthday, and catch up with the latest doings of Spalding Gray, one of the least predictable ''performance artists'' on the current scene.
Before his show began, I looked at sculptures and assemblages by some of the visual artists involved in the project, who have found an impressive variety of ways to reflect, exploit, or compensate for the dank but imposing environment they must deal with in this unusual semi-underground setting.
Gray's performance seemed designed to counter any lingering sense of gloom caused by the massive brickwork, uneven lighting, and occasional droplets of condensation that are integral to the anchorage. Instead of offering one of his unique ''monologues'' - solo theater pieces spoken directly to the audience with no script - he dispensed with his own words altogether and interviewed members of the audience.
This continued a stage experiment Gray has been conducting lately, aimed at breaking down the usual distance between performer and spectator. It also made for a neighborly evening, since local residents shared stories, memories, and experiences relating to the bridge that towered unseen above all of us. Simply titled ''Interviews Under the Brooklyn Bridge,'' it was a personable show even when its energy and interest flagged from time to time.
''Art in the Anchorage'' will continue through Sept. 28, with shows by various performers each Wednesday at 8 p.m., in addition to the sculptures and installations on display. ''Art on the Beach,'' the other current project by Creative Time, continues on the Hudson through Sept. 25 with performances each Sunday, presented in conjunction with special settings and ''visual premises'' devised by artists and architects. One other Creative Time production, a film animation by Bill Brand, can be seen from subway cars pulling into the Myrtle Avenue Station in Brooklyn.